SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. - Ballpark Digest, a highly respected outlet for baseball and stadium news, announced on Monday that Tennessee Smokies President and COO Chris Allen is the recipient of their Executive of the Year award for 2016. This prestigious award is released by Ballpark Digest annually acknowledging the top executive in all of the categories that Ballpark Digest covers.
Ballpark Digest selects one specific executive in which they feel is deserving for this award out of all of the baseball categories that they cover including major league, minor league, independent league, summer league, and college baseball. Allen also received top honors as the Southern League Outstanding Employee of the Year following the 2016 season.
"I am thrilled that Ballpark Digest decided to award me Executive of the Year," added Allen. "I've been an avid fan of Ballpark Digest for years; to be recognized by the leader in our Industry is quite an honor."
Allen just completed his fourth season with the Smokies, and his first as the organization's President. Allen had spent the three previous campaigns as the team's Vice President and COO. Allen brings over a decade of professional sports management experience to Boyd Sports, LLC, the owner of the Tennessee Smokies and operator of the Johnson City Cardinals.
"The Smokies organization is proud of the selection of Chris Allen, our President and Chief Operating Officer, as the Executive of the Year for 2016 by Ballpark Digest," said Smokies' Chief Executive Officer Doug Kirchhofer. "Since joining the Smokies in 2013, Allen has played a leading role in the significant growth of our business through our recent stadium improvements projects and with developing and expanding the Smokies' staff. We are honored to have his leadership recognized in our industry."
Since joining the Smokies' front office, Allen has played a key leadership role in the continued development of Smokies Stadium. Starting with the 2014 campaign, Allen has been a key catalyst in three of the most successful seasons in organization history in regards to revenue and attendance.
Allen has helped oversee the franchise as they have broken their own single-season attendance marks in 2014 and then again this season, welcoming 293,694 fans through the gates. In addition, the Smokies set a franchise-best in average attendance in 2015 with a gate of 4,406 per contest. Allen also played a large part in the team breaking the single game attendance record once again this year, with 7,902 fans coming through the gates in one night this past season.
Randy Boyd, co-owner of Boyd Sports, LLC stated, "Jenny and I are very fortunate to have an outstanding team in place to manage and operate the Smokies and Johnson City Cardinals. We appreciate Chris Allen's valuable contributions and extend our congratulations to Chris for receiving this prestigious award."
Allen has been at the forefront of several additions to the ballpark, including the "Calhoun's at the Yard Pavilion" in left field, the "Pioneer Heating and Air Porch" in right field, "The Clubhouse sponsored by Floor and Décor" on the luxury level of Smokies Stadium, "The Smoky Mountain Brewery Bullpen" located down the third-base line, and the rebranding of "The GoTeez Locker Room." In addition, Allen assumes the responsibility of President and COO of Boyd Sports, LLC, managing the business responsibilities of the Smokies as well as the team's sister club, the defending Appalachian League Champions Johnson City Cardinals. Allen also oversaw the addition of "The Perch", which serves as a group space located at TVA Credit Union Ballpark in Johnson City. This addition received Best Ballpark Improvement (Under $1 Million) by Ballpark Digest earlier this year.
Bryan Atchley who serves as the Mayor of Sevierville, TN states, "Our congratulations to Chris Allen on this prestigious award. Chris has been very professional and a pleasure to work with. He is very deserving of this honor and we wish him well and look forward to working with him in the years to come."
Allen is a founding board member of the North Carolina Baseball Museum in Wilson, N.C. and graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. with a degree in Sports Management. A Virginia native, he and his wife, Elisa, reside in Dandridge, Tenn. with their four children, Casey, Chase, Cara, and Charley.
The Smokies will commence their 2017 home campaign against the Mississippi Braves on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The full schedule for next season and season ticket information can be found online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 865-286-2300.
Information regarding Ballpark Digest can be found at Ballparkdigest.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.